In 1951, Louis Toebosch won the first International Organ ImprovisationCompetition. He was to be followed by Anton Heiller in 1952, Piet Kee (1953, 1954, 1955) and many other organists who later became internationally known names. Winning 'Haarlem' was, and is, the first step to an international career. Even just taking part in the competition has helped launch many a career, as the names of the numerous famous organists among the previous participants testify.
The 51st Haarlem International Improvisation Competition will take place from 18-22 July 2016. The material for the assignments will be created by several artists, and will not be only musical. In 2016, new elements and experimental techniques of improvising on and with the organ will be introduced, next to traditional improvising styles. Five internationally renowned organists will sit on the 2016 competition jury. Among them are Thierry Escaich (F), Guy Bovet (CH), Thomas Lacôte (F), and Ansgar Wallenhorst (D). The competition will take place on the Müller organ (1738 / IIIP / 62) in St Bavo's and the Cavaillé-Coll organ (1875 / IIIP / 47) in the Philharmonie concert hall.
The winner of the competition will receive a prize of 5,000 euro and will be invited for organ recitals in the following festivals and cities:
· Haarlem International Organ Festival 2018
· Paris (F), Notre-Dame, audition (2017)
· Toulouse-les-Orgues (Toulouse, France) 2017
· St Albans International Organ Festival (Great Britain) 2017
· Orgelwelten Ratingen (Germany), 2017
· Tongeren (Belgium), 2017
· Domkerk Utrecht (The Netherlands) 2017
· Nicolaikerk Utrecht (The Netherlands) 2017
· Stevenskerk Nijmegen (The Netherlands) 2017
· Martinikerk Doesburg (The Netherlands) 2017
The winner of the audience prize will receive 500 euro.
Eight contestants has been selected from the pre-selection recordings. All participate in Round One on Monday 18 juli 2016 in St Bavo's, after which a selection will me made for Round Two. Round Two on Wednesday 20 July 2016 will take place in the Philharmonie concert hall. After Round Two, three (or by exception four) contestants will be selected to take part in the Finale on Friday 22 July 2016 in St Bavo’s. Contestants will all have the same amount of time (depending of the assignment) for preparation, without the use of an instrument.
Recordings of previous competition finalists are available via the SoundCloud link on this site.